Pirates of the Media-bbean: A Storm of Disruption is Headed into the Media Sector
Bartholomew Roberts, the Welsh Pirate known as Black Bart was an economic disrupter. As a young sailor making a wage of ￡3, young John (Bartholomew’s original name, Pirate, what are you going to do) decided that the workingman’s life was not for him. “Being a commander is better than being a common man,” he once said.
He became quite effective in his work. When entering Trepassey Harbor in Newfoundland and all captains present abandoned their vessels rather than fight (he later burned their ships because he was angry at their cowardice). While his methods might have been extreme, they were a simple economic response to the accepted system of the day.
Apple must look an awful lot like Bartholomew, to the incumbent navies of RIM (the maker of Blackberry) and the Music Industry. Their business models have been significantly impacted by Apple’s disruptive approaches to existing markets. The key to both Apple’s and Black Bart’s success is the recasting of the current marketplace to their advantage. Cannon’s in a latter case; ease of use and connectivity in the former.
Today’s media navy is staring down the guns put into place by consumer choice in media consumption. DVR’s, video on demand, spam filters and the creative use of “signup” email addresses (if I use a yahoo addy you know what’s up) all allow us to manage the cacophony of messaging coming our way and to connect with media on our terms. It’s also creating a competitive environment in media production where the best content wins the eyeballs, and frequently that content is in the form of a blog, You Tube video or a Pinterest Board.
The captains of these ships look down their noses at the lowly pirates of the age. Bloggers? They aren’t “serious” media outlets say some media incumbents.Never mind that these same bloggers have more traffic than their traditional digital counterparts could hope to have in many cases.
The battlefield is quite simple. Consumers can choose their media, and more frequently they are choosing content created by their friends and family over that created by media companies. The counter-attack has been predictable, most media companies simply lifted their existing strategies and placed them on social platforms. As a recent Harvard Business Review article points out, simply collecting Friends and Followers won’t drive profits. Successful companies must engage to be successful. A push model delivered via social (e.g. – Hey, I got a coupon) won’t work.
Disruption is coming. The shape and size of the rebel force is yet to be determined but many militias are already on the march. The battles will be faster and deadlier than anyone can imagine. Consider the complete defeat of the music industry and much of the mobile marketplace took less than 5 years. Scan the horizon, and you’ll likely see the mast of the Royal Fortune.